early spring brings some butterflies I haven’t seen here before, like this Spanish festoon, a wonderful creature. it looks freshly emerged with its very furry body. the other I saw earlier, last week, was a Southern orange tip, a much more gaudy version of our northern one, mainly bright yellow with orange tips to its wings, whereas ours is white with orange.

also plenty of this one, the small copper, darting about busily.

and a common blue, the colour of the gas flame under the kettle, whizzing in zigzags along the muddy path, very difficult to catch; I got this image as a still from a video clip I filmed, so the resolution is very low and I can’t show it any closer up.

also I have been seeing small heath, gatekeepers, and small whites, maybe a green-veined white, and a comma.

a lovely big dung beetle, shiny, about two and a half centimetres long.

tadpoles in a puddle …. one wonders whether they will have had time to grow into frogs before the puddle dries up.

and a very handsome locust (I checked out my identification and found that a bush cricket would have had much longer legs and antennae) who was so sure he was beautifully camouflaged that he let us get really close.

cork oaks are part of the landscape here. the trunks before harvesting are fantastically convoluted, dense with stripe and pattern.

taking the bark off keeps them healthy apparently; it is done every ten years.

just an appealing picture – someone has been rooting up trees and has a very nice stack of firewood.

below the Montanchez citadel the rock falls away very steeply into a deep arroyo, lined with orange trees and olive groves. a stream rushes down here and it must be quite a fertile, sheltered spot. casetas cling to the terraces, old tiles and dry stone walls making picturesque little views, full of the sound of nightingales trilling at this time of year.

now the sierra is full of nightingales singing. imagine this – a walk up a steep path paved with worn granite stones and smoothed boulders, studded with wild flowers and grasses, edged by yellow and white broom, in the cool morning before the sun strikes you with its heat.

each turn brings a new view – white cows hiding amongst white broom in flower;

a white horse amongst yellow broom and spikes of moth mullein. and birdsong – always the gentle toot of the hoopoe in the background, sometimes two or three together, all at different pitches, making an oddly musical medley. the slip sliding, bubbling song of the nightingales predominates, often three or four challenging each other across the little grassy meadows in the hollows between crags, but the explosive buzzy crackle of dartford warbler song emanates from several trees and bushes.

the purple viper’s bugloss is starting to flower now.

these pink flowers are some sort of field geranium

in the deep grass of my finca several flushes of flowers have come and gone in the past few weeks. one I can’t find in my flower book has tall hatted seed cases, like a larkspur but much more exaggerated, so a mass of green spikes sticks up above the flower heads. I have pressed a few of these in my thick Spanish cookery book.